I was diagnosed with benign hypermobility syndrome (AKA double-jointedness) at age 15, and have had it my entire adult life. On my rheumatologist’s recommendation, I don’t do yoga, because if I stretch too far I’ll damage my joints. However, I would really like to find something else that combines meditativeness with motion; I run and bike regularly and find physical activity calming.
I can’t be the only person who loves the idea of yoga but can’t handle it physically. Is there a “yoga for people who can’t do yoga”?
We put this question out to the Homies on Facebook, and here’s what they suggested…
Hey, I am hypermobile too! Lots of hypermobile people have very flexible joints but very tight muscles (this is very much the case for me, I could never touch my toes but my knees will dislocate if I twist the wrong way, thumbs bend back to wrist etc).
I have just started yoga this year and its amazing (for me). No dislocations or injuries as yet. But I do know my body pretty well, and I always drop out a of a pose when it feels like it is stretching my joints too far. So yoga for me has been about loosening my muscles while protecting my joints. They are the poses I concentrate on, and to understand which ones might be putting stress my joints, I do research and speak to the teacher. I find the breathing and strengthening techniques to be amazing — pilates may be a similar option.
I also do this class called deep water running — its aqua arobics in the deep end of the pool. No stress on any joints. Lots of people use flotation devices but I want a harder workout so I tread water while doing the moves. -Jess
I’m a bendy Wendy too. Pilates works with your limitations without the expectation that you over stretch. It’s not my bag, but I’ve tried it and it’s less strenuous than yoga. Swimming is also good… If it’s the mantras and affirmations you find useful, I guess you could apply that to any form of exercise. Doesn’t have to be one that’s guided. -Vicki
I love yoga, but I have to be super picky about the kind of yoga I do. Ashtanga, which emphasizes strength and holds poses for a few minutes instead of flowing from one to another, was amazing for me. But you HAVE to know the proper limits for your body’s range of motion and respect them and not go into the more extreme forms or you risk serious damage and dislocation. -Teresa
When I went to pain rehab for my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, they had us in the pool doing slow aerobics with flotation devises. It helps if the pool is above average temp though as we need to stay warm when exercising. I can’t do yoga without assistance as I have really poor proprioception and usually end up doing myself harm by accident. -Beth
There is a book called “Yoga, My Bed, & M.E.” — the author has M.E/CFS, so all the poses are easy on the body. I haven’t read the book, but I follow her on Instagram. Anything that involves a lot of bending or stretching, I’d recommend just limiting the range of movement. -Elizabeth
I am in the same boat. I just started “gentle, mindful yoga,” and I am finding it manageable and does not stress my joints too much. I have also found that it actually helps me be more aware of my body’s limits so that I have more control of my movements (ie, I don’t just fling my arm out and sublux my elbow, now there is some strength and control behind it.) I do notice if I do it more than two times a week my joints start to give me issues so I hope that doesn’t excluded me from it in the future. -Janelle
Hey! I was diagnosed at 14, swimming is my favourite thing, though I don’t do it as often as I’d like. I also find gardening to be a great mix of meditation and movement; it’s my main form of exercise at the moment. -Michelle
HoopYogini — a combination of mindful meditation, hatha yoga (all standing poses, very little stress on joints) and modern hoop dance! -Genevieve
Tai chi or qi gong maybe? Qi gong can be a little faster and feel more like a yoga session. -Rebekah
I know a lot of people enjoy Tai Chi. -Marissa
Thirding Tai Chi for mindfulness + motion. -Nikole
There is a video series called Chair Aerobics for Everybody. They include chair yoga. The exercises are designed for people with limited mobility, so I’m not sure if this meets your specific needs. -Alexis
What about “slacklining” — meditation in motion! -Tahnee
Anyone else have suggestions of yoga for people who can’t do yoga?